Trapping, Coon Hunting and Fur Trading and the Appalachian Trail

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Before I discovered the world of self-employment, before the need to support a family and before the need for one more mighty dollar, I spend a large quantity of my time in the woods and fields just living for the day. My responsibilities were limited as were my opportunities.

I’m writing this because I just finished reading Hiking Through: One Man’s Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail Paperback by Paul Stutzman. This book is about a similar circumstance that we are discussing. The lure to a life that forgoes the need for a better life, for one that may be a better life after all. I admit the book has a few spots with a bit of an overzealous religious overtone for my liking, but a paragraph or two of fast forwarding allows for some interesting and enjoyable reading.

Like the book, I wonder if the hardships often endured trying to live off the land along with the lack of responsibilities other than forging a simple living makes the life easier or harder. Unlike the five months on the Appalachian trail, a life of pure hunting and trapping to survive is full time when “living off the grid” so to speak.

But it goes far beyond this decision. One can surely blend portions of all life styles together. The problem is within the changing world itself. Looking at the price sheets for my fur sales in the 1980’s I find fur prices are about the same or slightly less now. It certainly hasn’t let up with inflation.

Since $100 in 1985 has the same purchasing power as $279.59 in 2024 you can see why it might be difficult to justify buying traps and supplies, gas for the truck along with wear and tear, just to continue with such a lifestyle.

As a hobby, we can justify such activities, but as a living, today’s world doesn’t seem to allow it. However, like all hobbies that were once a way of life, slight modifications can help alleviate some of the financial hardships. If we look at today’s successful woodworkers, fisherman, hikers, glass blowers, blacksmiths, bow makers, farmers and a endless number of others we see a new tradesmen who writes, youtubes, teaches, lectures, has blogs and websites, and looks for other opportunities to supplement their activities and earn some extra cash while enjoying their trade. Many of these activities also ensures that way of life has a way to continue into the future.

There are of course curtain tradeoffs that just simply do not work in all areas. Just like my previous post about no longer being able to just fish down a brook as it flows through private property, it’s impossible to tell a coon dog he must avoid anything but public land. So, location and parts of the country just is not going to afford a coon hunting life and resorting to localized trapping will have to suffice, even given its sometimes insurmountable challenges.

I look forward to discussing how this changing world has affected my hunting and fishing style in a future article.

For now I hope our younger generation at least gets a glimpse of what it was like back in the “good old days” and can also get a chance to experience some of the joy you get from the hardships. Just like walking the Appalachian trail with its endless hardships, brutal conditions, bad weather and just plain days the seem to suck pond water, overcoming such obstacles, finding companionship and those willing to do whatever they can to add to the enjoyment is what life CAN be all about.


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